The NGT has asked the Meghalaya Police to investigate nearly 1200 cases of illegal quarrying across the state.
Shillong: A month after 15 miners were trapped in a coal mine, search operations for which is still underway, a three-member committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Meghalaya Police to investigate into nearly 1200 cases of illegal quarrying across the state.
The green tribunal had imposed a blanket ban on coal mining and transportation in Meghalaya in 2014, citing unscientific methods and absence of safety measures.
The three-member NGT committee, constituted in August last year, is currently studying the environmental aspects of rat-hole mining in the state.
An official said the police have been told that their probe should reach a logical conclusion after taking into account all 1200 cases of illegal rat-hole mining in East Garo Hills, South-West Khasi Hills and West and East Jaintia Hills districts.
Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually 3-4 feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal. The horizontal tunnels are often termed “rat-holes”, as each just about fits one person.
On December 13, water from nearby Lytein river flooded a network of tunnels in a coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills, trapping 15 men and prompting a rescue attempt that has failed to yield any result so far.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
That mining goes on unabated in the state can be gauged from the fact that heaps of freshly dug coal is dumped on both sides of the road that approaches Lumthari from Khliehriat, the district headquarters of East Jaintia Hills.
Meanwhile, official sources said the NGT committee, which has sought police investigation into the registered cases of illegal mining, is set to visit the state by January-end.
The committee, headed by retired judge Justice (Retd) B P Katakey, will conduct a field visit to South Garo Hills on January 30-31 to study the ground-level situation, they said.
Katakey told PTI that 98 cases of illegal quarrying have been registered in East Jaintia Hills district alone since the ban.
The committee, after a thorough study, will prepare a report and present it before the tribunal by March 31, he said.
“We have directed investigation into nearly 1200 cases of illegal mining and transportation of coal since the 2014 ban. In East Jaintia Hills, the SP has been asked to submit a report at the earliest in connection with the 98 cases recorded in the district,” Katakey added.
An official in the state mining and geology department said Meghalaya does not maintain statistics on mining and mishaps.
“As there is no study or statistics on the prevalence of mining in the state, the three-member NGT panel has asked district deputy commissioners to furnish all available data in connection with the illegal practices,” he added. – PTI
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.